Volatilization of organic compounds in the subsurface produce vapor plumes that can migrate horizontally and vertically throughout the unsaturated zone, possibly entering into residential or commercial buildings through a process known as vapor intrusion (VI). In this work, we study vapor generation and VI, using carefully controlled experiments in multiscale test systems in an effort to improve VI screening models and generally aid remediation site managers with the assessment of risk, and the selection of alternative remediation strategies.

Funding Sources: Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP)



Vapor Intrusion during water table fluctuation and a rainfall event

Selected Publications

Illangasekare, T.H, B. Petri, R.Fučík, C. Sauck, L.Shannon, T. Sakaki, K. Smits, A. Cihan, J. Christ, B .Putman, 2014, Vapor Intrusion From Entrapped NAPL Sources and Groundwater Plumes – Process Understanding and Improved Modeling Tools for Pathway Assessment, Final report SERDP Project No. ER-1687



Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) represents a strategy to stabilize, and eventually reduce, the net CO2 loading to the atmosphere from large stationary sources such as coal-fired power plants. The experiments we develop are aimed to characterize the migration, entrapment, and leakage risk of carbon dioxide, subsequent its injection into deep geologic formations.

Enhancing Trapping

Funding sources: U.S. Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, and partially by the National Security Science and Engineering Fellowship (NSSEFF), supported by the National Defense Education Program (NDEP).

Research Team: Trevisan, L,Cihan, A., J Birkholzer,  T Illangasekare, Mori, H., T. Sakaki,F. Fagerlund, Q. Zhou, R.Pini, A Gonzalez‐Nicolas

Selected Publications

Cihan, A., J Birkholzer, L Trevisan, A Gonzalez‐Nicolas, T Illangasekare, 2017. Investigation of representing hysteresis in macroscopic models of two‐phase flow in porous media using intermediate scale experimental data, Water Resources Research 53

González‐Nicolás, A., .Trevisan, T. H Illangasekare, A. Cihan, J. T Birkholzer, 2017. Enhancing capillary trapping effectiveness through proper time scheduling of injection of supercritical CO2 in heterogeneous formations, Greenhouse Gas Sci Technol. 00:1–14 (2016); DOI: 10.1002/ghg

Mori, H., T. Sakaki, and T.H. Illangasekare, 2015. Laboratory study of geological carbon sequestration using surrogate fluids: Measurement and scaling of capillary pressure and saturation relationships, International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 37, 146-157

Mori, H., L. Tervisan, and T.H. Illangasekare, 2015. Evaluation of relative permeability functions as inputs to multiphase flow models simulating supercritical CO2 behavior in deep geologic formations, International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control; Volume 41, October 2015, Pages 328–335.

Trevisan, L, E. Agartan, H. Mori, A. Cihan, F. Fagerlund, J. T. Birkholzer, Q. Zhou, and T. H. Illangasekare, 2014. Investigation of mechanisms of supercritical CO2 migration and trapping in deep saline reservoirs using surrogate fluids at ambient laboratory conditions, International Journal Of Greenhouse Gas Control, 29, pp. 35-49.

Trevisan, L, R. Pini, A. Cihan, J. T Birkholzer, Quanlin Zhou, A.González‐Nicolás, T.H Illangasekare,2017. Imaging and quantification of spreading and trapping of carbon dioxide in saline aquifers using meter-scale
laboratory experiments, Water Resour. Res., 53, doi:10.1002/ 2016WR019749.



The contribution of mixing processes to the stable trapping of dissolved scCO2 in deep heterogeneous geologic formations was studied. In homogeneous formations, mixing is dominated by convection, and the dissolved mass moves through the deeper parts of the formation. On the other hand, in presence of heterogeneity, the dominant mixing process (either diffusive or convection mixing) and the spatial distribution of dissolved scCO2 depend on the geometry, distribution and hydraulic properties of the units in the formation, which influences the storage efficiency.

Convective mixing with homogenous and heterogeneous packing

Funding Source: National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy

Research Team: Tissa Illangasekare, Elif Agartan, Javier Vargas-Johnson, Abdullah Cihan, Jens Birkholzer, Quanlin Zhou

Selected Publications:

Agartan, E., Trevisan, L., Cihan, A., Birkholzer, J.T., Zhou, Q., Illangasekare, T.H. (2015). Experimental study on effects of geologic heterogeneity in enhancing dissolution trapping of supercritical CO2. Water Resources Research, doi: 10.1002/2014WR015778.

Agartan, E., A. Cihan, T. H. Illangasekare, Q. Zhou, and J. T. Birkholzer (2017), Mixing and trapping of dissolved CO2 in deep geologic formations with shale layers, Advances in Water Resources, 105, 67-81, doi: 10.1016/j.advwatres.2017.04.014.


A concern for geologic carbon sequestration is the potential for leakage of stored CO2 into the shallow subsurface where it could degrade the quality of groundwater and surface water. In order to predict and mitigate the potentially negative impacts of CO2 leakage, it is important to understand the physical processes that CO2 will undergo as it moves through naturally heterogeneous porous media formations. This study quantitatively investigates the effects of various porous media interfaces on the process of gas phase CO2 accumulation in shallow freshwater aquifers. Intermediate-scale experiments were conducted in two different test systems that were packed with various test sands in layered configurations.


Selected Publications

Plampin, P., T. Illangasekare, T. Sakaki and R. Pawar, 2013. Experimental Study of Gas Evolution in Heterogeneous Shallow Subsurface Formations During Leakage of Stored CO2, International Journal Of Greenhouse Gas Control,. doi: 10.1016/j.ijggc.2013.03.025.

Plampina, M, T. Illangasekarea, T. Sakakia, R. Pawar, 2014. Experimental study of gas evolution in heterogeneous shallow subsurface formations during leakage of stored CO2, International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control 22 (2014) 47–62.

Plampin, M. R., R. N. Lassen, T. Sakaki, M. L. Porter, R. J. Pawar, K. H. Jensen, and T. H. Illangasekare (2014), Heterogeneity-enhanced gas phase formation in shallow aquifers during leakage of CO2-saturated water from geologic sequestration sites, Water Resour. Res., 50, doi:10.1002/ 2014WR015715.

Plampin, M. R., Porter, M. L., Pawar, R. J., & Illangasekare, T. H. (2017). Intermediate-scale experimental study to improve fundamental understanding of attenuation capacity for Leaking CO2 in heterogeneous shallow aquifers. Water Resources Research, 53.


Develop and experimentally verify using intermediate scale test systems a new inverse theory that integrates limited data from deep formations with more abundant or easily obtainable shallow aquifer data for improved characterization of deep zones as well as for the monitoring of connected, overlying shallow aquifers for potential contamination.

Funding sources:  National Science Foundation

Research Team : Tissa Illangasekare, Andrew Trautz, Jordan Skipwith, Ahmed Askar, Willie Konshi- Colorado School of Mines; Ye Zhang and JiyanYing Jiao- University of Wyoming



Funding sources: U.S. Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Research Team : Tissa Illangasekare & Mike Plampin-  Colorado School of Mines; Rajesh Pawar & Mark Porter – Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL)

Selected Publications

Jiao, J.; Zhang, Y. (2014) Two-dimensional inversion of confined and unconfined aquifers under unknown boundary conditions. Advances in Water Resources, Vol. 65, p. 43-57,

Jiao, J.,  Zhang, Y. (2014) A method based on local approximate solution (LAS) for inverting transient flow in heterogeneous aquifers.  Journal of Hydrology, Vol. 514, p. 145-149,

Zhang, Y. (2014) Nonlinear inversion of an unconfined aquifer: simultaneous estimation of heterogeneous hydraulic conductivities, recharge rates, and boundary conditions. Transport in Porous Media, Vol. 102, p. 275-299, DOI: 10.1007/s11242-014-0275-x.


Funding sources: EPA, Strategic Environmental Research for Defense Program (SERDP)

Team and Collaborators:  T. H. Illangasekare, J. Junko Munakata Marr, R.L. Siegrist , K. Soga, K.C. Glover, E. Moreno-Barbero, J. L. Heiderscheidt, S. Saenton, M.Matthew, A. R. Kaplan, Y. Kim, D. Dai, J. L. Gago and J. W.E. Page

(a) Migration of LNAPLs in homogeneous aquifer             





(b) Unstable behavior, fingering and macro trapping of DNAPL


Selected Publications

Held R.J., and T.H. Illangasekare, 1995. Fingering of dense non-aqueous phase liquids in porous media 1. Experimental Investigation, Water Resources Resh., 31(5),1213-1222.

Illangasekare, T.H., J. L. Ramsey, K.H. Jensen and M. Butts, 1995. Experimental study of movement and distribution of dense organic contaminants in heterogeneous aquifers, J. of Contaminant Hydrology, 20, 1-25.

Illangasekare, T.H., D.N. Yates and E.J. Armbruster, 1995. Effect of heterogeneity on transport and entrapment of non aqueous phase waste products in aquifers: an experimental study, ASCE J. of Env. Eng., 121(8), 572-579,.

Walser, G.S., T.H. Illangasekare and A.T. Corey, Retention of liquid contaminants in layered soils, Contaminant Hydrology, 39, pp 91-108.


The primary goal of this research was to understand and characterize mass transfer and tracer partitioning in physically heterogeneous DNAPL sources undergoing remediation. Four source zone treatment technologies were evaluated: (1) bio-treatment, (2) in situ chemical oxidation (ISCO), (3) surfactant enhanced dissolution and (4) thermal treatment. Fundamental knowledge was generated to improve and develop tools for evaluating the impact of remediation technologies on DNAPL distribution in heterogeneous systems.

Funding sources: Strategic Environmental Research for Defense Program (SERDP)

SERDP Project No. CU-1294

Team and Collaborators:  Tissa H. Illangasekare, Junko Munakata Marr, Robert L. Siegrist, Kenichi Soga, Kent C. Glover, Elena Moreno-Barbero, Jeffery L. Heiderscheidt, Satawat Saenton, Mini Matthew, Ann R. Kaplan, Youngchoel Kim, Dongping Dai and John W.E. Page

Design for Experimental Tank Showing Heterogeneous Packing, Constant Head Devices, Head Monitoring Ports, and Sampling Ports

Steady-State PCE Concentration Profiles at Sample Arrays A, C and E during the Natural Dissolution Experiment, High Heterogeneity Tank


Selected Publications

Saba. T and T.H. Illangasekare, 2000. Effect of groundwater flow dimensionality on mass transfer from entrapped nonaqueous phase liquids, Water Res. Resh, 36(4),971-979.

Saenton, S and T.H. Illangasekare, 2007. Up-scaling of mass transfer rate coefficient for the numerical simulation of DNAPL dissolution in heterogeneous aquifers, Water Resources Resh.43, W02428

Liua, Y., T. H. Illangasekare, P. K. Kitanidisa, 2014. Long-term mass transfer and mixing-controlled reactions of a DNAPL plume from persistent residuals, Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, Volume 157, February 2014, Pages 11–24.


Chlorinated solvents such as trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE)  have densities greater than water and are classified as dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPL).  Surfactant-enhanced aquifer remediation (SEAR), also known as in situ surfactant flooding, is designed to enhance the removal of NAPL from the subsurface by increasing the effective aqueous solubility of NAPL and reducing interfacial tension between the water and NAPL phases. This study investigated strategies for using this technology to remediate naturally heterogeneous aquifers.

Funding sources: Strategic Environmental Research fo Defense(SERDP)


Source-Zone Architecture after Surfactant Flushing

Remediation endpoints and trajectories

Team and Collaborators:  T. H. Illangasekare, J. Junko Munakata Marr, R.L. Siegrist, K. Soga, K.C. Glover, E. Moreno-Barbero, J. L. Heiderscheidt, S. Saenton, M.Matthew, A. R. Kaplan, Y. Kim, D. Dai, J. L. Gago and J. W.E. Page

Selected Publications

Saba, T., T.H. Illangasekare and J. Ewing, 2001. Surfactant enhanced dissolution of entrapped NAPLs, J. of Cont. Hydrology, 51 (1-2) pp. 63-82

Saenton, S., T.H. Illangasekare, K. Soga and T.A. Saba. 2001. Effects of source zone heterogeneity on surfactant enhanced NAPL dissolution and resulting remediation end-points, J. of Contaminant Hydrology, 59, 27-44.


The tasks of delineating and characterizing source zones can be a challenge. If the morphology and distribution of DNAPL are unknown, implementation of an effective  remediation technique becomes difficult. Traditional soil-coring methods have proven to be ineffective as a result of remobilization during sampling as well as the large number of discrete samples needed to resolve the spatial distribution of DNAPL. Partitioning tracer tests provide a technique for characterizing DNAPL source zones using information integrated over scales greater than can be provided by discontinuous, discrete measurements of the system.

Funding sources: NSF and SERDP

Team and Collaborators:  T.H. Illangasekare, D.Dai, Elana Morini-Barbero

Selected Publications

Dai, D., and Illangasekare, T.H., and Barranco, F.T.,  2001. Partitioning and Interfacial Tracers for Differentiating NAPL Entrapment Configuration: Column-Scale Laboratory Results”, Environmental Science and Technology. 35, 4894-4899.

Illangasekare,T. H., J. Junko Munakata Marr, R.L. Siegrist , K. Soga, K.C. Glover, E. Moreno-Barbero, J. L. Heiderscheidt, S. Saenton, M.Matthew, A. R. Kaplan, Y. Kim, D. Dai, J. L. Gago and J. W.E. Page, 2006. Mass Transfer from Entrapped DNAPL Sources Undergoing Remediation: Characterization Methods and Prediction Tools, SERDP Project CU-1294 , Final Report, 435 pages (Released in 2007)

Moreno-Barbero, E. and T.H. Illangasekare, 2005. Simulation  and performance assessment of partitioning tracer tests in heterogeneous aquifers, Environmental & Engineering Geoscience, Vol. XI, No. 4, pp395-404

.Moreno-Barbero, E, and T.H. Illangasekare, 2006. Influence of pool morphology on the performance of partitioning tracer tests: evaluation of the equilibrium assumption, Water Resources Resh., 42, W04408, pp11. doi:10.1029/2005WR004074, 2006

Moreno_Barbero, E., S. Saenton and H. Illangasekare, 2007. The effect of DNAPL source zone architecture on the performance of partitioning tracer tests: intermediate scale investigation, Vadose Zone J 6:725-734


Chemical oxidation has become a promising in situ remediation technique for sites where groundwater and soil are contaminated by chlorinated solvents. Application of in situ chemical oxidation (ISCO) to a source zone with DNAPL is designed to speed up remediation by inducing increased mass transfer (and subsequent destruction) from the source.

Funding sources: SERDP

Team and Collaborators:  T. H. Illangasekare, J. Junko Munakata Marr, R.L. Siegrist, Heiderscheidt,



Selected Publications

T. H. Illangasekare, J. Junko Munakata Marr, R.L. Siegrist , K. Soga, K.C. Glover, E. Moreno-Barbero, J. L. Heiderscheidt, S. Saenton, M.Matthew, A. R. Kaplan, Y. Kim, D. Dai, J. L. Gago and J. W.E. Page, 2006. Mass Transfer from Entrapped DNAPL Sources Undergoing Remediation: Characterization Methods and Prediction Tools, SERDP Project CU-1294 , Final Report, 435 pages (Released in 2007)

R L. Siegrist,. M. Crimi, J. Munakata-Marr, and T.H. Illangasekare)Reaction and Transport Processes Controlling In Situ Chemical Oxidation of DNAPLs, Final Report to SERDP, 2006.

Heiderscheidt, J.L., R.L. Siegrist, T.H. Illangasekare, 2008. Intermediate-Scale 2D Experimental Investigation of In Situ Chemical Oxidation using Potassium Permanganate for Remediation of Complex DNAPL Source Zones, J. of Contaminant Hydrology, 102 (1-2): 3-16.

Heiderscheidt, J., T. H. Illangasekare, R. Borden and E. Thomson, (2011). Principles of ISCO Related Subsurface Transport and Modeling, IN SITU CHEMICAL OXIDATION FOR GROUNDWATER REMEDIATION, SERDP/ESTCP Environmental Remediation Technology, 2011, Volume 3, 233-284, DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4419-7826-4_6, Springer.

Land- atmospheric interaction

At the fundamental process level, many of the concepts that form the foundation of our understanding of bare-soil evaporation dynamics have advanced little since their initial formation. This investigation explores experimental scaling issues that should be considered during the study of bare-soil evaporation and soil moisture redistribution under conditions of sustained aboveground airflow

Funding sources: Army Corp of Engineers, National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellows (NSSEFF).

Team and Collaborators:  A. Trautz, Stacy Howington, T.H. Illangasekare, J. Peters, T. Sakaki, M. Dawarzani

Soil moisture and wind velocity

Selected Publications

Davarzani, H., K.M.Smits, R. Tolene and T.H. Illangasekare. 2014. Study of the effect of wind speed on evaporation from soil through integrated modeling of atmospheric boundary layer and shallow subsurface., Water Resources Research doi:10.1002/2013WR013952

Trautz, A.C., T.H. Illangasekare, and S. Howington (2018), Experimental testing scale considerations for the investigation of bare-soil evaporation dynamics in the presence of sustained above-ground airflow, Water Resour. Res. accepted

Trautz, A., K.M. Smits, P. Schulte, and T.H. Illangasekare, 2013. Laboratory validation and numerical testing of the sensible heat balance and heat-pulse methods to determine in situ soil-water evaporation. Vadose Zone J., doi:10.2136/vzj2012.0215.


The commonly used methods in the subsurface monitoring of water, gas, and dissolved chemical rely on samples extracted from monitoring wells. In applying these methods to existing and emerging problems in the subsurface where the zones to be monitored are large and data have to be collected for long time periods, they become impractical and cost prohibitive. Data collected from subsurface sensors and wireless sensor networks provide an attractive alternative. Fundamental sensor network issues such as sensor network deployment, virtual sensor network, reliable sensor data collection, and network optimization in supporting environmental applications are researched. The use of sensors coupled to numerical models of inversion and prediction as applied to subsurface plume monitoring is tested Two potential applications of the technology for long-term monitoring of subsurface remediation sites and greenhouse gas are explored.

Funding sources: National Science Foundation, Army Research Office

Team and Collaborators:  Porta, L., T. Illangasekare, P. Loden, Q. Han, K. Barnhart, I. Urteaga (CSM) and Bandara, H. M. N. D, Bandara, H. M. N. D, A. Jayasumana (Colorado State University)

Test beds for wireless sensor network (WSN) testing and managed aquifer recharge   (MAR)


Selected Publications

Porta, L., T. Illangasekare, P. Loden, Q. Han, and A. Jayasumana (2009), Continuous Plume Monitoring Using Wireless Sensors: Proof of Concept in Intermediate Scale Tank, Journal of Environmental Engineering, 135(9), 831-838.

Barnhart, K., I. Urteaga, Q. Han, A. P.Jayasumana, and Tissa Illangasekare (2010), KOn Integrating Groundwater Transport Models with Wireless Sensor Networks, Ground Water, 48(5).

Barnhart, K., and T. Illangasekare (2012), Automatic transport model data assimilation in Laplace space, Water Resources Research, 48(1).

Bandara, H. M. N. D., A. P. Jayasumana, and T. H. Illangasekare (2008), Cluster Tree Based Self Organization of Virtual Sensor Networks, paper presented at IEEE Globecom Workshop on Wireless Mesh and Sensor Networks, Nov. 2008., New Orleans, LA.

Bandara, V., A. P. Jayasumana, A. Pezeshki, T. H. Illangasekare, and K. Barnhardt. (2010), Subsurface Plume Tracking Using Sparse Wireless Sensor Networks, International Electronic Journal of Structural Engineering (EJSE) Special Issue.

Illangasekare, T.H., Q.Han and A. Jayasumana, “Environmental underground sensing and monitoring” in Underground Sensing: Monitoring for Environment and Infrastructure, (Eds. Pamukcu and Cheng), Elsevier, 2017, ISBN 978-0-12-803139-1


The Indian Ocean tsunami, created by an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, killed more than 25,000 people in Sri Lanka. The flood also destroyed, or contaminated with sea water and pollutants, almost all the wells within reach of the waves, which in places penetrated up to 1.5 kilometres inland. A new conceptual model was developed based on intermediate scale experiments to explain the salinity persistance.


Funding sources: National Science Foundation

Team and Collaborators: Illangasekare, T.H., S.W. Tyler, T. P. Clement, K. G. Villholth, A. P. G. R. L. Perera, J.Obeysekera, A. Gunatilaka, C. R. Panabokke, D. W. Hyndman, K.J. Cunningham, J. J. Kaluarachchi, W.-G. Yeh, M. T. van Genuchten, and K. Jensen

          Simulation of a tsunami event in intermediate scale test tank- conceptual model of salinity persistence  

Selected Publications

Illangasekare, T.H., S.W. Tyler, T. P. Clement, K. G. Villholth, A. P. G. R. L. Perera, J.Obeysekera, A. Gunatilaka, C. R. Panabokke, D. W. Hyndman, K.J. Cunningham, J. J. Kaluarachchi, W.-G. Yeh, M. T. van Genuchten,12 and K. Jensen, 2006. Impacts of the 2004 tsunami on groundwater resources in Sri Lanka, Water Res. Resh., VOL. 42, W05201, doi:10.1029/2006WR004876, 2006.

Vithanage, M., Engesgaard, P. Jensen, K. H. Illangasekare, T. H. Obeysekera, J. (2012). “Laboratory investigations of the effects of geologic heterogeneity on groundwater salinization and flush-out times from a tsunami-like event.” Journal of Contaminant Hydrology 136: 10-24. Doi 10.1016/J.Jconhyd.2012.05.001

T. H. Illangasekare, J. Obeysekera, L. Perera, A. Gunatilaka, H.A. Dharmagunawardane. “Persistence of Salinity in Tsunami Effected Coastal Aquifers In Sri Lanka: Conceptual Models and Research Needs”, 04/01/2006-09/30/2006, 2006, “AGU Abstract”.

Illangaseker, T.H, J. Obeysekera, M, Vithanage, K. Villholth, K. Jensen, Y. Perera and A. Gunatileks. “New conceptual model for salinity presistance in tsunami affected coastal aquifers in SRi Lanka”, 04/01/2006-09/30/2006, “American Association for Advancement of Science, Annual Meeting, February San Francisco”.


Plant communities exist in a continual state of transition as the spacing between individuals in each successive generation changes in response to environmental conditions. We developed a conceptual model based on quantitative experimental data and established ecological theories to provide insight into plant performance and community spatial pattern development from a hydrodynamic perspective. We demonstrate that the roles of cooccurring competition for soil water and facilitation of abiotic stresses (i.e., microclimatic) vary with spacing distance between individual plants, impacting soil moisture patterns and local water availability. Our conceptual model can provide insight into the design of future field and modeling efforts focused on pertinent climatological and ecohydrological problems related to land– atmosphere fluxes, agricultural best practices, and ecosystem productivity and recovery.

Funding sources: Army Corp of Engineers

Team and Collaborators:  Andrew Trautz, Tissa Illangasekare, Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbeb

Plant competition and facilitation

Soil moisture and humidity with different plant spacing

Selected Publications

Trautz, A.C., T.H. Illangasekare, I. Rodriguez-Iturbe, K. Heck, and R. Helmig (2017), Development of an experimental approach to study coupled soil-plant-atmosphere processes using plant analogs, Water Resour. Res., 53(4), 3319-3340183.

Trautz, A.C., T.H. Illangasekare, and I. Rodriguez-Iturbe (2017), Role of co-occurring competition and facilitation in plant spacing hydrodynamics in water-limited environments, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 201706046.


Nano-scale zero-valent iron (NZVI) is a novel remediation technology for aquifers contaminated by chlorinated ethenes such as tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE). Nano-scale zero-valent iron (NZVI) is a novel remediation technology for aquifers contaminated by chlorinated ethenes such as tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE). . In this study we show that a significant reduction in down-gradient contaminant concentrations can efficiently be achieved by placing NZVI in the zone directly down-gradient of the DNAPL source, referred to as the zone of effective reactivity (ZER). This work involves a more generalized study of different reaction zone configurations and source settings, and provides more detailed information about the requirements of the ZER under a broader range of field conditions.

Funding sources: SERDP

Team and Collaborators:  Tissa Illangasekare, Greg Lowry, Fritjof Fagerlund3, Menka Mittal,Sidika Turkbey Cihan1, Tanapon Phenrat, Hye-Jin Kim

Selected Publications

Fagerlund, F., Illangasekare, T. H., Phenrat, T., Kim, H. J., Lowry, G. V.. (2012). “PCE dissolution and simultaneous dechlorination by nanoscale zero-valent iron particles in a DNAPL source zone.” Journal of Contaminant Hydrology 131(1-4): 9-28. Doi 10.1016/J.Jconhyd.2011.08.011

Phenrat, T., . Fagerlund, T. Illangasekare, G. V. Lowry, and R. D. Tilton, 2011. Polymer-Modified Fe0 Nanoparticles Target Entrapped NAPL in Two-Dimensional Porous Media: Effect of Particle Concentration, NAPL Saturation, and Injection Strategy, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2011, 45 (14), pp 6102–6109, Publication Date (Web): DOI: 10.1021/es200577

Phenrat, T.; Cihan, A.; Kim, H.-J.; Mital, M.; Illangasekare, T.; Lowry, G. V. (2010) Transport and Deposition of Polymer-Modified Fe0 Nanoparticles in 2-D Heterogeneous Porous Media: Effects of Particle Concentration, Fe0 Content, and Coatings. Environmental Science & Technology, 44 (23), pp 9086–9093.

Phenrat, T.; Kim, H.-J.; Fagerlund, F.; Illangasekare, T.; Lowry*, G. V. (2010). Empirical Correlations to Estimate Agglomerate Size and Deposition during Injection of a Polyelectrolyte-modified Fe0 Nanoparticle at High Particle Concentration in Saturated Sand. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 118 (3-4) pp 152-164

Phenrat, T., H-J. Kim, F. Fagerlund, T. Illangasekare, R. D. Tilton, G. V. Lowry (2009). Particle Size Distribution, Concentration, and Magnetic Attraction Affect Transport of Polymer-modified Fe0 Nanoparticles in Sand Columns. Environ Sci. Technol.43 (13) 5079-5085.


Two-phase flow in fractured subsurface media has relevance in several practical situations, including non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL) contaminants, geological storage of nuclear waste and liquefied CO2 as well as petroleum engineering. Modeling of two-phase flow in fractured rocks requires effective properties defined at the macroscopic scale of the flow systems.

Selected Publications

Yang, Z. B., Niemi, A. Fagerlund, F. Illangasekare, T. (2012) “Effects of single-fracture aperture statistics on entrapment, dissolution and source depletion behavior of dense non-aqueous phase liquids.” Journal of Contaminant Hydrology 133: 1-16. Doi 10.1016/J.Jconhyd.2012.03.002

Yang, Z. B., Niemi, A. Fagerlund, F. Illangasekare, T. “A generalized approach for estimation of in-plane curvature in invasion percolation models for drainage in fractures.” Water Resources Research 48. Artn W09507, Doi 10.1029/2012wr011829.

Yang, Z. B., Niemi, A. Fagerlund, F. Illangasekare, T. (2012) “Effects of single-fracture aperture statistics on entrapment, dissolution and source depletion behavior of dense non-aqueous phase liquids.” Journal of Contaminant Hydrology 133: 1-16. Doi 10.1016/J.Jconhyd.2012.03.002

Collaborative Research: SitS NSF-UKRI: Dynamic coupling of soil
structure and gas fluxes measured with distributed sensor systems: implications for carbon modeling

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The primary goal of this research is to develop two in-situ sensor systems that measure in-ground gas concentrations and strain/moisture/temperature/suction at relevant scales in the field to provide data on the dynamics of gas flux and soil structure. We propose to develop, deploy and test two distributed sensor systems for multi-scale soil condition monitoring because current approaches to sensing soil properties are point-based and cannot be sensibly used to obtain spatial patterns in the sensed variables. The proposed distributed fiber optic sensor system will provide wide-coverage data of (i) strain, (ii) temperature and (iii) selected gases, whereas the proposed in-ground mesh-based WSN system that utilizes magnetic induction-electromagnetic communication will measure (i) moisture, (ii) suction, (iii) temperature and (iv) selected gases.T his project is a collaboration between three institutions: (1) University of California at Berkeley (UCB), (2) Colorado School of Mines (CSM), and (3) Rothamsted Research (RR), UK. The research is organized under six work packages.

Funding Source:
National Science Foundation
US Department of Agriculture/NIFA
UK Natural Environmental Research Council

Validation of a New Inverse Theory for Joint Parameter and Boundary Conditions Estimation to Improve Characterization of Deep Geologic Formations and Leakage Monitoring

Research conducting by CSM group under this project is intended to address several practical challenges in managing CO2 sequestration applications to reduce the risk of shallow aquifer water contamination. This research will help in 1) improving the conceptual understanding of the effect of the uncertainty in the source conditions data (storage zone heterogeneity, leakage rate and location) on the accuracy of predicting the plume migration pathways, and 2) validating an approach that can be used in designing cost-effective monitoring systems that provide early leakage detection, information about the leakage source and plume development, 3) providing a fundamental knowledge about the relationship between the upward traveling distance of the early stage of brine leakage (pressure-driven and highly saline leakage) and inherent geological structure of the overlaying formations. All of these studies will contribute to improve the management and monitoring of carbon geological storage in deep saline formations.